10 August 2017SGT

SUPER GT Round 5 Fuji Speedway: race results

A good showing in 4th after moving up a position from the qualify

Round 5 of SUPER GT ‘FUJI GT 300km RACE’ was held on Sunday 6, August. Starting from 5th on the grid after the qualify, the SUBARU BRZ GT300 driven by Takuto Iguichi and Hideki Yamauchi narrowly missed a podium position, finishing in 4th in a clean race without intervention by the Safety Car.

Offsetting a gap in straight speeds on corners

The race got underway at 15:25 after a 20-minute warm-up session. On the race day, the circuit basked in summer weather with strong sunshine in the morning, but it turned cool and windy as the sky became overcast in the afternoon. This change in the weather was expected to work in the SUBARU BRZ GT300’s favor because lower air and track surface temperatures are more compatible with the car on softer tires. The team predicted that gaps with cars in front and behind would gradually widen if they held their position early in the race.

Yamauchi got behind the wheel first. He had a clean start to move up to 4th quickly as a preceding car went off the track, but he was passed by a rival and dropped back to 5th on the next lap. After that, he kept FIA GT3 cars at bay to hold his position and then started extending the gap after Lap 10. As the front-runners went back to their pit one after another, Yamauchi moved tentatively up to 2nd and passed the car over to Iguchi on Lap 31. Iguchi then went back on to the track in 11th after just a tire change and ended up in 4th as all of the cars had finished their pit stop. Although he edged closer to Car No 31 in front and at one point closed in to the point where he could directly see it, he remained in 4th until he crossed the finish line. Despite missing a podium position, this was a promising result for the team as they prepare for the next race at Suzuka circuit, because they were able to compete equally against their rivals on Fuji Speedway which does not suit their car.

A missed podium but a fulfilling race

Starting driver Yamauchi said after the race, “
I think I was able to demonstrate the advantages of our car in the second and third sectors, but it was a little difficult to pass our rivals. However I think it was important that I was able to keep my position with FIA GT3 cars in the early stage of the race. I was able to maintain a margin and pass the car to Yamauchi after changing just 2 tires -we had a tactic to keep front tires and only replace rear tires. The next race will be held on Suzuka Circuit where you have to be able to drive every lap like a qualify. I will prepare well so that I can go there in good mental and physical condition”.

Ighich, who took over from Yamauchi also expressed his positive impression of the race. “We decided to only change rear tires and opted for used tires which are easier to warm up as we focused on quickly picking up pace after coming out of the pit. In the first half of my stint, I struggled to keep a balance between the front and rear of the car, but later, I think I was able to keep lap times at the same level. As we knew that Car No 31 in front of us would not change tires, I predicted that the race result would be decided at the end, but I could not push enough. We are good on Suzuka Circuit with some good results there in the past, and we were able to run a solid race this time, I think I will be able to go to the 1000km race in a positive frame of mind.”

General Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi looked back at the race and summed it up. “The tires were stable and the drivers were able to go for maximum attack all the time. With the pit stop also going smoothly, everyone in the team gave their best. The result was 4th after a perfect race but I feel that we did every thing we could.”

He evaluated the SUBARU BRZ GT300 as working well enough as a ‘cornering machine’, but also commented, “I would not want to see our car being easily passed by another car in the same JAF GT category on a straight. Our lap times are similar to theirs, which means our drivers have to work hard to compensate for the difference on straights. We should praise their achievement today. There should be more chance for us in the next race on Suzuka Circuit as it is a ‘cornering circuit’. We will definitely aim for a win”.

The next stop for SUPER GT is Round 6 ‘46TH INTERNATIONAL SUZUKA 1000km’ on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27, August. The SUBARU BRZ GT300 is usually good at the longest race of the series on Suzuka Circuit in Mie, Japan. We would like to ask readers and fans for their support for the team, which has further strengthened motivation after this race.